The Plan of God.
Joshua 15-16, Acts 13
And after destroying seven nations in the land of Canaan, he gave them their land as an inheritance. – Acts 13:19 ESV
It would take almost 450 years, but the people of Israel would eventually find themselves the inhabitants of the land promised by God to Abraham. He would fully fulfill His promise to give them the land of Canaan as their inheritance. God would do His part, but the people of Israel never fully complied with His command to destroy all the nations dwelling in the land. He would prove faithful, but they would not. Yet, the occupation of the land and their unfaithfulness while living in it were all part of His divine plan. This was not a surprise to God. He was not caught off guard or panicked by their lack of faithfulness. In fact, Paul makes it clear that all of this was part of a well-conceived of plan devised by God long before He ever called Abram out of Ur. The people of Israel would be used by God to accomplish His will for the entire world. They would not only be the recipients of His grace, they would end up being the conduit of His grace and mercy to the entire world.
What does this passage reveal about God?
Speaking at the synagogue at Perga, Paul addressed a crowd made up of Jews and those who “feared God” – Gentiles who had converted to Judaism. He recounted God’s choosing of Israel and His blessing of them while they lived in the land of Egypt. He reminded them how God had rescued them from their eventual slavery under the Egyptians and led them for 40 years in the wilderness as they made their way to the land He had promised to give them. Eventually they conquered that land, but it would take them 450 years to do so. And they would never fully follow God’s command to eliminate all the nations that had occupied the land. This would end up in their worship of the gods of the very nations they refused to remove from their midst. Which Paul reminds them, is what led to God having to send judges. These men and women would “saved them out of the hand of those who plundered them” (Judges 2:16 ESV). The period of the judges marked a repetitive cycle of the people sinning against God by turning to other gods, then God having to bring judgment in the form of defeat at the hands of their enemies. This would eventually result in the people crying out to God for help, and His sending of a judge to rescue them. Then the cycle would repeat itself. In time, the people of Israel determined they wanted a king, just like all the other nations had. In doing so, they were rejecting God as their true King. But this was all part of God’s plan as well. After giving the people Saul, a king just like all the other nations, God would place His king, David, on the throne – “a man after my heart, who will do all my will” (Acts 13:22 ESV). From the lineage of David would came Jesus, the Savior of the world and the legitimate heir to the throne of David. But the Jews would reject Him as their King and Lord. They would refuse to recognize Him as their Messiah, instead demanding that Pilate put Him to death. Which he did. But this was all part of God’s plan. The death of Jesus was not unexpected or surprising to God. It was all in fulfillment of a long-standing plan for the redemption of mankind. Jesus had to die. But His death was followed by resurrection. He did not remain in the grave. God destroyed death’s strangle hold on mankind by raising Jesus back to life. Elsewhere Paul reminds us, “If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you” (Romans 8:11 ESV). Jesus’ restoration to life from death is proof of God’s promise to give men eternal life. Paul told his audience that day, “Let it be known to you therefore, brothers, that through this man forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you, and by him everyone who believes is freed from everything from which you could not be freed by the law of Moses” (Acts 13:38-39 ESV).
What does this passage reveal about man?
The plans of men pale in comparison to the plan of God. The unfaithfulness of men cannot thwart or stop the faithfulness of God. The people of Israel never lived up to God’s expectations for them. But He wasn’t surprised. He knew they could never fully keep His commands or live up to His holy standards. His law was intended to reveal the depth of their sin and depravity. It made the reality of man’s sin visible and undeniable. It also proved that no man could earn favor with God through his own efforts – “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23 ESV). All men, both Jews and Gentiles, find themselves in the same dilemma – under the curse of the law and condemned to death for their sins. But God’s plan was to send His Son as the payment for man’s sin. His death was intended to satisfy the just and righteous demands of God, acting as a substitutionary sacrifice for the sins of mankind. But as in Paul’s day, there are those who refuse to accept God’s Son as the payment for their sins. They refuse to believe their need for a Savior. There will always be those who reject Jesus as Savior and Lord. But God’s plan will accomplish its appointed goal: “And when the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord, and as many as were appointed to eternal life believed” (Acts 13:48 ESV). Many will reject God’s offer of forgiveness of sin and salvation made available through Jesus Christ. But others will believe. Because it is all part of God’s incredible, unstoppable plan.
How would I apply what I’ve read to my own life?
It is so important that I view life from God’s perspective and not from my own, limited viewpoint. I must constantly learn to see the world from a big-picture perspective. While the people of Israel were integral to God’s plan, they were not the focus. Their inability to understand and embrace God’s big-picture perspective prevented them from enjoying His blessings. They were short-term in their outlook, only thinking about the immediate impact on their personal lives. They didn’t live for the future. They lived in the here and now, fulfilling their own personal desires and viewing themselves as the sole focus of God’s attention. But God had bigger plans. He had a much larger outcome in mind. And while God still has His hand on the people of Israel and will fulfill every promise He has made to them, His real goal was to provide redemption and restoration to men of every tribe, tongue and nation. God’s plan is not yet complete. I must remember that there is far more to this story than my own personal chapter. God is working a much greater storyline and, while it includes me, it does not focus on me. I am not the point. He is.
Father, thank You for the reminder and reassurance that Your plan is in place and You are working it to perfection. There is nothing that I need to worry about, because You are in full control. Help me to see life through Your eyes and not my own. Show me how to view all the circumstances of life as part of Your overall plan for the redemption and restoration of mankind to a right relationship with You. Amen
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men